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"Sequencing and Synthesis: Where are Biology, Bioengineering, and Biotechnology Taking Us?"

Lecture by Doug Lauffenburger, head of bioengineering at MIT, at the ASA Boston chapter meeting, Feb. 22, 2013.



 Lauffenburger's slides (pdf 9MB)

Since the completion of the Human Genome Project, the cost for whole genome sequencing for an individual has dropped dramatically: from one hundred million dollars in 2001 to ten thousand dollars in 2011. In the coming few years, the cost is projected to drop substantially further, placing the opportunity for individual genome sequencing into wide reach.  Analogously, synthesis of DNA for introduction into cells is rapidly becoming more cost-effective so that designed programming of biological systems may be significantly enabled.

Gene-based therapies and biology-driven technologies will soon become a familiar part of our daily lives. What potential does biological engineering have to ease human suffering, repair and sustain our environment, and advance our understanding of the natural world?  And what potential concerns need to be considered in this context?